Information for new Volunteers

One Happy Family Community Center thanks you for your interest. We are looking forward to welcoming you soon!

Before your arrival

We ask you to arrive during a weekend. This allows you to settle in and explore the city before our orientation meeting for new volunteers on Monday. It is really important for you to start on Monday for registration and organizational reasons, and unfortunately we can't make any exceptions regarding this.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all new arrivals from outside Greece need to self-isolate for 7 days before they start volunteering at OHF. You can find the details of our COVID-19 policy for our team members here

Please inform us ( about your arrival date in Mytilini, as soon as you have booked your flights or ferry. For capacity reasons the team can’t pick you up. Taxis from the airport cost around 10 Euros.


We are happy to support you in finding accommodation. In your Zoom interview you will be informed about different housing options in Mytilini City Center.


We ask our volunteers to cover their costs for the shuttles to and from the community center, coffee, tea, breakfast and lunch  at OHF. The contribution is 3€ per working day for your first six weeks working with us. After six weeks your costs will be covered by One Happy Family. Please hand your contribution in cash to the team member responsible for finances on the day of your arrival.

Please budget additional expenses for your dinner, a joint night out at a tavern or trips on your free days. For a shared dinner at a tavern in Mytilini you pay about 10 to 15€, for a rental car about 30€ per day plus affordable fuel costs.


While packing your bag, please make sure that you pack appropriate clothes. Since we work with people from different cultures, bring clothes that cover shoulders and knees and that are not too revealing. Note that the summer months can be extremely hot, and winter months cold, windy and rainy. We might ask you to help carrying heavy items, so please bring comfortable and light working clothes. In addition, we suggest a towel, a sleeping bag (cold winter nights), solid shoes and a reusable coffee cup and drinking bottle.

Registration & background check

We register all our volunteers at the relevant authorities. On this account we ask you for your information in our application form (the passport-copy). Thus, you don’t have to bother with your volunteer registration. Please send your criminal record check, after we confirm your stay at OHF, to the volunteer coordinator.

Code of Conduct and Safeguarding

We ask all our volunteers to read and sign our code of conduct once they arrive. Please read this document beforehand.

All our team members are also required to complete a one-hour online Safeguarding course. After the confirmation of your volunteer placement, you'll be informed about the course and will need to send the completion certificate to the volunteer coordinator before you start working at OHF. 

Arrive informed and prepared

We advise our volunteers to inform themselves in detail about the current situation in the refugee crisis before their arrival. We will prepare you for your work at OHF in the orientation meeting. Nevertheless, it is essential for you to know about the bigger picture of your work and contribution.

Please note that One Happy Family is depending on private donations and operating in a fragile environment. Since February 2020, the situation on Lesvos has been complicated and you'll need to be flexible and prepared for any changes in the operational context. In case of the project being closed for financial or situational reasons, we will support you in finding another organisation on Lesvos or on the mainland. 

If you consider vaccination, measles-muss-rubella, tetanus and hepatitis might be studied.

Your arrival


The airport on Lesvos, Mytilini Airport (MJT), is approached several times daily in summer season. You will probably have an intermediate stop at Athens Airport. Please note that the airline Olympic Airways/Aegean asks their passengers often to collect their bags in Athens and check them in again themselves. The airport is located a few kilometres outside of Mytilini. The costs for a taxi from the airport to the city center are approximately 10€.

In case you have a transfer/layover at Athens airport and want to visit the city, have a look at this link.


If you travel via ferry from Piraeus, Kavala or one of the surrounding islands, check this article: Travelling to and from Lesvos by Ferry.

Please get in contact with us before your departure ( if you have any questions.

During your stay


A lot of the communication on the ground is via WhatsApp. Therefore we ask you to have internet wherever you are. We advise you to buy a Greek SIM for your mobile. They are obtainable in every mobile store in Mytilini and cost about 10€ per month. This credit allows you to make free phone calls to other Greek numbers of the same provider and to use the internet.

If you'll use roaming instead, make sure to switch off the automatic selection of the phone network, as due to close proximity to Turkey your phone might get connected to the Turkish networks which costs high amount of money. 


We start every morning at 09:00 with the shuttle to OHF and arrive to the city center at around 17:30 in the evening. These are the four stops, where we meet to drive to OHF:

At the community center, we meet at 09:30 to have breakfast, plan the day and discuss the pending tasks together with our shift coordinator. On Saturdays and Sundays the OHF is closed.

The general idea is to have our different activities offered by our international volunteers and our community volunteers together. We always need help in projects like our child care (Nest, playground, other kids' activities), at registration and information points, at the café, etc. Please find more information about our projects on our homepage

If you are interested in volunteering with us as a mid- or long-term, you'll have long-term responsibilities according to the project's needs and your skills and interests. Even without previous experience in working with refugees, you have the chance to offer your skills for example in childcare, media work or teaching. As a volunteer with long-term responsibilities, you will still have the opportunity to help in our daily projects.

New projects are always welcome. At our orientation meeting you will be informed about current projects and we will ask you to contribute your ideas throughout your stay at regular 1:1 talks as well as group meetings.


At the orientation meeting you will also get to know our volunteer guidelines and discuss challenges of humanitarian work. The aim of the meeting is to protect our volunteers and ensure the quality of our community center.

We always try to support our volunteers as well as possible. Nevertheless, we can’t have our eyes and ears everywhere, so we ask you to listen to yourself and seek help if needed. We work in an environment in which people could lose their patience, their hope and their mind. People could become thin-skinned and very temperamental. Be aware of these facts in your daily work at OHF.

Please contact the shift- or the volunteer coordinator if you feel uncomfortable, insecure or over-strained by any situation.

Greek Dictionary

Here are some basic Greek words and sentences:

EnglishGreekTransliterationPronunciation (for English speakers)
Γειά σου!
Geiá sou!Yah-soo
Nice to meet youχάρηκα
How are you?τι κάνεις
ti káneisee-kah-nis?
Good morningΚαλημέρα
Good afternoon/eveningΚαλησπέρα
Thank youευχαριστώ
Cheersγειά μας
geiá masYa-mas

For more information, check out the following links:

After your departure

Awareness work

Volunteering doesn’t end with your departure. By sharing your experience with friends and family, you raise awareness for the situation on Lesvos in your home country. You can organise public talks (e.g. in your community, university and among your friends), use your social media and one-to-one talks. By confronting yourself with the harsh reality for refugees in Greece, you enabled yourself to make an impact and inspire people to follow your example. From our experience we know that most of our volunteers started because a friend told them about our work.

Please get in touch for any material or other support for your awareness work! You can also download presentation material from our server via this link:

For any further questions please contact us under

We are looking forward to meeting you!
Your One Happy Family team

Updated 3 months ago.

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